Designing as I go

I’m typically not an impulsive person. I like to plan out everything, so it surprises me that when I begin another baby quilt, I often don’t have the total plan in mind.

I get inspiration from a picture I see or a description I read and I start thinking about how to work that into a quilt. Sometimes I don’t even know the colors I want to use until I start digging in my stash or shopping at a fabric store.

Take this most recent quilt, for example. I knew I wanted the letters so I found the paper piecing patterns for letters and started in. Then I had to consider how to connect them. I sewed the individual words as units, then laid them out to see what else needed connecting. With sparkly white (leftover from a Christmas angel costume) and many colors, I decided something dark would set it all off. I found a patterned black and made the center panel.

Several weeks of paralysis. Does that ever happen to you? I just couldn’t move forward until I made a decision about how to continue. The brick border was originally going to be pieced as a wide strip of narrow bands of color, but I started sewing the bands together and decided the scraps I was using were more uniformly cut by width than length. That’s how the design of that particular border was changed, literally 90 degrees. It was mindless work/hard thinking time to simply cut small pieces of fabric to a uniform width and start sewing many ends together.

I’ve never been unhappy with a final result when I was designing at every step. Maybe I’m a concrete thinker, rather than abstract. I need to see how it looks so far and go from there.


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